Translation Memory Software Advantages and Disadvantages

December 21st, 2011

Prior to discussing the merits and pitfalls of utilizing translation memory software, it is imperative to understand precisely what this technology is able to do. For starters, translation memory or TM, is essentially a workable database of information relating to language. It stores bits of data – packets of information – in segments. These can be strung together into functional language fragments. The key differential here is that these bits of information have been translated for the purposes of non-native speakers of the translated language. Various names for such software are readily known – most common is the term Translation Memory Managers. Most leading translation memory programs employ the use of various bits of information from the source language and their concomitant translations into the target languages. The Advantages of Translation Memory Software Naturally, users of the TM software are able to enjoy rapid and fairly accurate translations of their required material. This is especially handy if technical information and legal documentation requires translation. Among the prime benefits are the following:

  • Owing to the fact that the translated material has already been translated – and is stored in the memory of the program – there is no need to conduct further translations of the same material. This saves the end user on cost, time and energy.
  • An entire document is able to be translated, complete with segment, block and overall consistency checks. Words, terms and phrases are largely checked which adds to the credibility of the translated piece of work.
  • Utilizing TM software provides users with quick and easy access to a wide array of formats without the need for ownership of the software.
  • When users employ the likes of TM software for rather large projects, the undertaking is made easier by way of increased savings (time, expense and energy). Thus, there may or may not be a need to translate subsequent versions of large projects.

The Disadvantages of Translation Memory Software The translated material in subject matter is always dependent upon the context of the work being translated. There are literally multiple ways to translate any given body of text, but if the meaning or the intended meaning is not clearly relayed, the literal translation has no value. Thus the primary concern of using TM software for translation purposes is that the process must never be accepted as holy writ without the control and processing of the human element. Each body of work requires careful checks and balances to ensure consistency and fit with the intended meaning.  Thus the recycling of sentences, phrases and translated blocks of material must be done with caution. The overall message is thus one which must be understood within the context it was intended.  Redesign of TM software is thus an issue to be looked at. And presently not all documentation formats are supported by TM software. In order to be most effective at translating material accurately, it is thus imperative that redesign and customization of the TM software is undertaken. These are but a few of many challenges in TM software.

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